Championship Manager is one of the longest, best known game series ever. And here we have the latest incarnation which boasts more features than you can throw a very big stick at.
The main difference that you'll notice straight away is the look of the game. CM4 has been updated graphically so much, it looks much better than the previous games and now supports skins so if you don't like the look of any of the skins that come with the game you can make your own. Or possibly download a skin of your favourite club in the near future.
CM4 gives you access to 39 national leagues, including some of the most well known ones such as the English Premiership, German Bundesliga and the Italian Serie A. Supporting that is a massive database of over 200,000 real life players and support staff. The number of teams you can choose from is amazing and you'll most likely find your favourite to manage in there somewhere.
Once you have chosen your club and set up what leagues you want playing in the background. (Warning the more you choose the slower the game!) You're then ready to take on the world or a small but very competitive part of it anyway.
The game gives you control on almost every aspect of managing a club. You have to look after the finances, keep the board and supporters happy and manage the transfer of players in and out of the club. If you are feeling up to it you can also manage the reserve and under 19 teams, who have their own leagues to battle through.
To be honest if you have played any of the other Championship Manager games you'll be right at home with the basics of what you need to do, although this version does include some major, and minor, updates.
One of the ones I noticed instantly was the updated tactics screen, this screen controls how your players play on the pitch, get it right and you'll be on your way to the top, get it wrong and you'll be down and out before you know it. The new tactics options allow you to tell players what type of ball to play, whether they should push forward or stay back to cover the defence or whether they should run with the ball or kick it up the field. The options are almost endless and you'll be able to see the results like never before with the all-new 2D match engine.
All new 2D match engine? Yes that's right! This version of Championship Manager allows you to view the whole game, or major parts of it as the action is played out as if it were live. You will see the runs your players are making; their mistakes, passes and whether you need to man mark a certain opposition player because he is running circles around your defence. To compliment the new 2D match engine are some new match day sounds, watch the game for 90 minutes and the sounds will play along with the action on the pitch, supporters will bring drums and trumpets and if the crowd or match is small the sounds will be quieter than if you played Manchester United at in the Champions League final.
After the match and at the end of most days you will be taken to the news screen. Here you get reports from your scouts about potential good signings, information about injuries, bans and many other bits of information that require your attention, which brings me to the next added gameplay element, the media. This game offers you more media interaction than before. The media will start rumours, gossip and speculation about various matters, all of which you are given the chance to respond to.
So far most of what I have talked about is good, but there are some drawbacks to all that the game offers. The speed of the game is determined by the number of leagues you want running alongside the league your team is in. The problem with this is that choosing too many leagues to run means the game takes longer to do everything. Not only does it have to worry about the league you are in and the leagues above you but it also needs to calculate the matches and stats of every team in all of the other leagues you are running.
Championship Manager does give you a guide to how many leagues it thinks your machine can run but as the manual says, it may take a few games to determine the optimal amount.
I suppose I could go on forever about what's new, what's changed and describe everything in detail but this review would be so long. Instead I think I'll just end it here and hope what I have already said has persuaded you to buy a game that I think is almost perfect.
Overall Championship Manager is the best football management game you can buy and if they keep making improvements like this there will be no need for others. The graphics are better, the tactics, transfers, sounds and match days are almost perfect. This game has so much to offer you lose hours, if not days, of your life!